Thursday, July 28, 2011


Hey, gorgeous. Come to this box often? Why don't you sit down and tell me about yourself?

Mm-hmm. No-no, baby, I'm listening. Continue.


(P.S. We are considering keeping Dottie -- see my post about Dottie, below. This post was brought to you by Zero, who is quite a man!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's so hard to say "Good-bye."

(above: Dottie and Elvis at a few weeks)

A few months ago, my friend Jennifer and I went to the E-Vet to pick up four little kittens in a box lined with a ragged towel. A nice professor had found two separate litters of two in his back yard -- Elvis and Cash were both tiny, cold and dehydrated; Dottie and Consuela were plump, clean and fuzzy. "Oh, they're little," Jennifer said as we looked into the box. We had been told they were about two to three weeks old, but clearly, they were about a week, their eyes having just opened. Any kittens taken to the shelter at that time were being euthanized, due to overwhelming "surrenders." Because we by-passed the shelter and took in these four kittens, we saved their lives.

After getting the "all-clear" from the clinic, Jennifer took home Cash, Consuela and Elvis for a week, and although she was originally drawn to Dottie, she left Dottie with me while I prepared another litter for adoption. Cash died that first week -- we think he had a genetic abnormality. And when my Amigos were gone (Lucky, Dusty and Ned were all adopted), I took Elvis and Consuela in. They all had to be bottle fed, and sometimes I was up in the middle of the night, awakened by tiny peeps and squeaks... "We're hungry, we're hungry." It's hard as a middle-aged woman to get up at 2 a.m., but seeing those sweet furry little faces made it easier.

Consuela had a stroke (or other brain event) at about five weeks, and although she survived it, she was paralyzed, and we had to have our emergency vet put her down. Elvis and Dottie were like siblings, the only two left from the professor's back yard. Elvis has since been adopted by Jennifer and her family, and is enjoying life with two big (cat) sisters, lots of food, curtains to climb, and needlework to get into.

And now Dottie is big. She's had her surgery, her shots, her microchip implant. She's well past the stage where she needs "special" care like bottle feeding. When I come home at the end of the day, she comes running down the hall to greet me and rub on my legs. And when I'm sitting stitching or working on the computer, she's on my lap, purring while she sleeps. She burrows her way into my hair at night, keeping warm while I dream. And if I'm cooking, she'll come stand by me, periodically looking up to tell me something or to ask for a little attention.

I have struggled mightily with the idea of letting her go. I really like her. I love her, in fact. It's not unusual. I like all of the cats we foster, and could have easily kept any of them. They've all been wonderful. Why, I've been wondering, do I sit and look at her and consider keeping her? Why do I try picturing her as a grown cat on my lap?

"I have four cats already," I've been telling people. "I can't keep every seventh or eighth cat we foster."

I want to. I'm bonded to her. And the more I thought about it last week, I finally realized what it was. Basically, to her, I'm her mother. She came to live with us just after her eyes had opened, and I fed her warm bottles. I cleaned her when she was messy. I cuddled her and played with her. The care I have given her is part of her. Those things I gave her since her beginning: bottles, that attention and affection, the food, the grooming, the patience, they're all knit into her bones. They're knit into mine.

But she belongs to someone else. It isn't fair to my cats to have to divide their attention from me further. It isn't fair to Dottie, who should be receiving a larger portion of care and affection from an owner. I have to trust the community to bring forth a person who will love her, cuddle her, care for her just as I have...or better. On Thursday, I'll take her to a little cage at the store across the street where passers-by can look at her, consider her, and eventually, someone will take her home. I'm cutting that ribbon that connects my heart to hers. She's ready for her life.

Good-bye, Dottie. You may not remember me in a few years. But I will always remember you.

(Post script: Yesterday I was aided twice by fate. Jennifer was buying groceries yesterday and it turned out her cashier had adopted Soba, another of our foster cats. Judy (his new owner) said he is very loved, spoiled, and happy. And Judy told Jennifer to let me know that if I ever want to check in on Soba, I can go over to Wal-Mart and see if she's on duty. She'll be happy to give me an update.

And the shelter called me to ask if I could take six (yes, six) kittens for one week. They're about four weeks old and have a foster mother who can take them in a week (she's currently on vacation.) If I couldn't take them, they most likely would have been euthanized. Taking those kittens home last night reminded me that there are many more lives to save. I'm willing to get my heart broken a little here and there in order to help others. It's so rewarding.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hey, Gatos!

I call my crew "gatos," which is Spanish for "cats." I walk in the door at the end of the day, and I say: "Hey, Gatos!" They all come running. Then they want food. Thought I'd share a few updated pictures for those of you who are interested.

This is my Dottie. She had her surgery last week and will soon be going to PetSmart for adoption. She is my baby girl -- since I bottle-fed her starting at about one week old, I am basically her mommy. I'm hoping she'll find a home where someone loves her as much as I do. She's very sweet and smart.

Elvis came over for a play date last week (the night before surgery). He is having a great time at my friend Jennifer's house with his new buddy Lizzy, who was adopted by Jennifer last year (Lizzy is a really nice Calico.) I hear he's been climbing the curtains and making a mess of Jennifer's stitching projects. He's getting big! When he was at my house, he found his old favorite blanket that he used to curl up in (and suck on) when he was just a tiny thing. And of course, finding that blanket made him think it was a good time for a nap.

This is Mufasa. He's just been at our house a couple of days. He's calm and kind of stately, for a kitten. He didn't mind posing for a picture, but I had a much harder time getting a picture of Simba (below). Simba wanted to just run around (all of my pictures of him looked like someone threw a fuzzy orange earmuff in front of the camera.)

Finally, Simba decided it was time for a drink, so I was able to snap a few pictures of him when he was finished. Simba and Mufasa were the only two spared from their litter of four. They're going to hang out with us until they weigh two pounds and can have their surgery. Don't you think I'm so lucky getting to have so many friends?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Two posts in one day?

I forgot to include a picture of my latest sampler acquisition! I bought this one from the same gentleman in England who sold me Mary Bate's sampler. He had found three samplers at an auction, and since I bought Mary's, he gave me a deal on Jane Pattison's.

This one has a wonderful Christmasy feeling to it with the mossy greens and deep rosy reds. The flower on the bottom right isn't missing -- it's stitched in cream and beige. I'm thinking I may chart that flower so it kind of matches the flower on the left, but include a conversion to the original. I LOVE THE COLORS! And the border is soooo interesting. Not only is it comprised of pine boughs, BUT there are motifs OUTSIDE the border!!! I am assuming Miss Jane had space left and wanted to practice some other motifs. Whattagirl.

The piece is stitched in wools on a 28-30 count loosely-woven linen. The size of the original is approximately 15 by 21. Jane was 13 when she finished the sampler on August 31, 1806.

What do you think of this one?

Shmoreo Shmookie

I had a great time in Tulsa at The Silver Needle retreat last weekend -- thanks to all of you who came and helped put on a great weekend. Lindy has a beautiful shop which is well-worth a visit if you're in the Tulsa area. And her employees are so friendly and helpful. Plus, there's a really great quilting shop around the corner.

I'm sharing a picture of one of my class projects (this was a Raise the Roof design). It's a hand-dyed wool felt needlebook that opens up and has cream filling on the inside (made from quilt batting.) It was fun to see how everyone's cookies turned out. Just a few simple stitches make this up -- blanket stitch, backstitch, Lazy Daisy, and Colonial knots (plus a few cross stitches.)

I took in two more foster kittens yesterday (Dottie will be going to PetSmart as soon as a cage opens up.) Zero is growing quickly. Simba and Mufasa are my two new babes -- little orange puff-balls. They look to be about five weeks old. Two of their litter mates were euthanized. These two were spared, and are going to hang out with me until they're big enough for surgery. I'll post pictures soon. They're very, very cute, and nervous. They probably weigh about twelve ounces each, but they puff up, arch their backs, and skid around trying to look tough. The other cats just look at them and roll their eyes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Weeds Make Haste

Here's a new design from me! It's stitched on 32 count Tumbleweed linen in Weeks Dye Works and Sampler Threads and was inspired by a quote from Bill Shakespeare (you may have heard of him?) It was fun to stitch, and I'm super-pleased with how it turned out. I will be shipping to distributors next week. Have your local shop look for them soon, or contact me to buy a copy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Here's my new ward. Zero is getting used to all of the lady cats at my house, and yesterday he was sleeping so soundly, Harrison said he thought Zero had kicked the bucket. We'll only have him a few weeks, but it's nice to have a new furry face around the house.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good golly, Miss Molly

I am overwhelmed, swamped, bowled over with, and completely drowned by people offering to stitch models for me. That's awesome! I have been printing out requests as they come in, and will respond to the group next week after I get back from Tulsa, Oklahoma (Silver Needle retreat.)

I can tell you that I will be placing each stitcher's informal application in order of preference depending on country of origin (shipping these types of things over-seas makes me nervous), how well (if at all) I know the stitcher, experience in model stitching, ability to stitch on fine counts and ability to work me into her schedule. The entire group will hear from me by e-mail...later. Give me time to sort it all out. Thank you for your kind interest!

Also, I took in another foster kitty yesterday afternoon. His name is Zero, and he was found by a bulldog, who was walking his man. Zero looks to be about six weeks old, and although our shelter is putting down all kittens under two pounds who are coming in right now, they gave Zero a reprieve due to unbearable cuteness, good condition, and an aroma around him like fresh laundry. It's inexplicable. I bathed him, and he still smells like a dryer sheet. He is a grey long-hair with grey eyes, and although he loves people, going for rides in the car, and BATHS of all things, he's still "working out" his issues about other cats.

Of course, every feline in the house had to go sniff his butt when I brought him home. You can't blame him for being uptight about that.

Dottie and Elvis are in surgery today. My friend Jennifer is adopting Elvis (hooray!) and it is going to nearly kill me to give Dottie away. I will post "graudation" pictures of them soon. So proud of those little cats.

(P.S. One day last week, my blog had over ONE THOUSAND visits! That's crazy! Thank you, everyone, for your support.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mary Bate's lovely sampler has arrived

Mary Bate's sampler from 1796 is even more lovely than I figured. The colors are golds, greens and antique rose. The linen is about a 52 count, and the size of the original is 12 by 15 1/2.

The sampler is mounted on a wooden frame with little nails/tacks. I always hate removing the samplers from these frames, because I am always so afraid to tear the piece. But it'll have to come off at some point. It's not good for the life of the sampler for it to stay mounted on wood. It'll get conservation framed after I reproduce it. I do not yet have plans for a release date for this sampler.

Here's a cute picture of Graham from our vacation. We visited the Fargo Zoo the first full day we were in town, and he wanted to ride the merry-go-round. Even though he's 14, you can see he was kind of pleased with the situation.

And this is the last picture I took of Chi and Soba before I took them to PetSmart two weeks ago. They were adopted within a few days. But it makes me a little sad, because this was their last cuddly nap together on a favorite chair at the house. I do miss them, but have been in contact with Chi's (right) new owner. Andrea loves Chi, now called "Stella." They sit and watch movies together in the evenings, and Andrea has bought Stella new cat toys and a black gingham collar with a bow.

Have a great weekend. I hope you get some stitching done!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A couple of things...

I will post pictures soon, but I received my Mary Bate sampler today in the mail (from 1796). It's WONDERFUL! GORGEOUS! FANTASTIC! AWESOME! Sometimes when I purchase a sampler online (esp. eBay), the pictures of the sampler aren't great, so I'm buying a little on faith. This was a great find, and it'll be really fun to reproduce.

Which brings me to my next point. Since I am finding all of these great samplers, and since I'm only one person, I'm looking for model stitchers. I would really like to start releasing one a month, but I cannot possibly run my shop, design, reproduce AND stitch all of these great things. If you're interested, you can send me an e-mail at Here are some stipulations:

1. You do not need to have previous model-stitching experience, but it helps.

2. You need to be comfortable working on 32, 36 and/or 40 count. Often my reproductions have areas of over-one stitching and/or some specialty stitches (usually things like Algerian eye, or some straight stitches...usually nothing too difficult.) I provide, obviously, the chart, threads, fabric, needles.

3. Your stitching needs to be neat and study (threads tidily and well-anchored on the back. These pieces get taken all over the country, so they need to be able to stand up to some mileage.)

4. You do not need to be a speed demon, but I can't wait a year for a piece to get stitched. Obviously, you need to be able to devote time to stitching when you agree to finish a piece for me. Sometimes I have deadlines, and sometimes not. Sometimes the pieces are large, but you would get a picture of the antique before you agree to stitch the reproduction.

5. You cannot cheat me by selling (or giving away) copies of the graphs I send you to stitch the model. Believe it or not, this happens. The design is mine to release. You will be paid for your time.

6. Which brings me to my payment structure. I pay my model stitchers 1.5 cents per stitch. To give you an idea of what that works out to, a piece like the Ann Grant sampler will earn a model stitcher about $650.00. A piece like Elizabeth Mary Gandey is about $250.00. I figure out the stitch total -- my software counts the stitches in the graph! The stitched model belongs to me, then.

It's wonderful to have model stitchers to help me out, and it's easiest for me to "farm out" my reproductions. As much as I like to stitch them, I also stitch my original designs. And since the reproduction sampler colors are set by the original, I don't have to make adjustments once I've done color selections. With my original designs, I often change my mind about colors, and do more ripping/tearing/frogging. (Rip-it, rip-it.)

OK, one last thing, and then I'm done. Elvis has found a home! I had my friend Jennifer and her family take care of Dottie and Elvis while I was up north. Her husband Hobbie wasn't too keen on watching two kittens (they have two cats already, and he has allergies.)

But the day after I dropped them off, he posted a picture AND a video on his Facebook page. A few days later, Jennifer e-mailed that Hobbie was hoping her sister Sharon would adopt Elvis. Then a few days later, she texted me that Hobbie wanted them to adopt Elvis! It's true! So, I get to watch Elvis grow up, and it's too, too wonderful, because he'll have a great family and two "sister" cats to help him learn what he needs to know.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A little R&R with family

I'm sitting in Steve's folks' sun room in the lake house on Lake 15 (which is, of course, near lakes 14 and 16 here in Minnesota.) A couple of red-headed woodpeckers are fighting over the suet cake hanging from a wide-leaved tree outside. I never was very good at identifying trees -- I know weeping willow, apple,'s kind of like how I am with cars. I know a Corvette when I see one, and trucks are easy. The finer points of trees and cars elude me, although I'm happy when they shade me or take me places.

We brought Graham's friend, Zac along on our trip. He has never been farther north than Washington D.C., and I think he likes it here, although he's been kind of wide-eyed and quiet. He's been to "the big city" of Fargo a couple of times. We visited the Fargo Zoo on Wednesday and were able to pet some goats, llamas and horses. And we just had lunch at Zorbaz, a fantastic hippie-type pizza and Mexican food joint where you are allowed to write on the tables and walls, the cups are all plastic, and the nachos come heaping with chicken and beef, red onions, jalapenos, sour cream, cheese, black olives, re-fried beans and best of all: fresh cilantro.

Steve and I golfed 18 holes this morning in Hawley, Minnesota, with his uncle Lonnie. Although my mother has always been a stickler for the rules of golf, and although I was raised playing a lot of it (and even was on the golf team in high school), Steve and I don't believe in keeping score or being too uptight about any of it. If he hits the ball in the rough, he just kicks it back out. And if I duff one off the tee-box, I just tee up another one. It's more fun to play when you're not keeping score. That way, we tend to just remember the good shots, and forget the bad ones.

It's always nice to spend time with family, and this visit, so far, has been relaxing and happy. Harrison went and got his hair cut really short -- and now I can see his eyes! Graham is very proudly teaching Zac about the finer point of mid-western living. And Steve is getting a nice tan from all of his time in the boat and on the golf course.

I forget how necessary it is to re-charge now and again. I'll be back at soon renewed and ready to work, design and pack orders. But for this weekend, I'm going to be laughing with family, eating good food, spending time outside, and sleeping in a little. Ain't it grand?

Hope your weekend is sensational.